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Ordinances would help residents pay deliquent fees

By Staff | Mar 21, 2011

Two ordinances were discussed during a City Council workshop Monday night that addressed procedures for individuals who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure because of delinquent utility capital expansion fees.
The ordinance would enable individuals to make their accounts current by paying the penalties they owe.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the number one problem is that individuals have to pay a total lump sum to get caught up and they cannot afford to do that financially.
“We are giving them an opportunity to make payments and get caught up,” he said. “It is an opportunity to make payments and get current” and continue living at their residence.
McGrail said the utility capital expansion fees are actual fees that occurred by the city. The 18 percent annual rate, which has been rewritten in the ordinance, came from a Florida statute. He said the percentage is recalculated every year based on the current rates that are being charged.
City Attorney Dolores Menendez said the ordinance would provide individuals with a one-time deal where they can pull the utility capital expansion fees back from foreclosure, by beginning to pay as though they were voluntarily paying from the beginning.
Councilmember Bill Deile said this is real money that had to be put out because these people did not meet their obligation.
“There is no incentive for people to make payments on time, if we pass this as written,” he said. ‘Someone can say I need these waived, but if you do it in an ordinance there is no penalties for people not to pay on time.”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said he would like to create a positive result for the homeowner by allowing them to restart their clocks and pay their fees and costs.
“It has potential,” he said about the ordinance. “I am not sure it will save people from foreclosures. If we can start them off without fees and interest, it would be a better approach.”
Menendez said they are trying to establish an interest rate to be charged which has some flexibility. She said the proposal should address how to treat the people who are trying to bring their homes back from foreclosure.
“This is the beginning of your dialogue, not the end of it,” she said.